Press Statement dated 18 February 2019

The “terrible infrastructure” of the railway lines under the management of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) contributed to the derailment of two locomotives and 11 wagons of a goods train of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) on Saturday in Pretoria West.

Tau Morwe, Acting Group Chief Executive of Transnet, informed the leadership of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), the majority Union in Transnet, that he had visited the scene over the weekend and was shocked to see the condition of the infrastructure.

“Some of the rail sleepers was in the air, without a base underneath them. Some of the wooden sleepers had disappeared. Transnet has spent more than R42 billion on infrastructure over the past ten years and it is now in the worst condition that it has ever been,” Morwe said.

According to him it is to early to determine the damage of the derailment. The train was transporting wheat. Two locomotives and 9 of the 11 wagons that derailed, will most likely be written off.

There are also four cross over points, five mast poles and more than 100 sleepers that needs to be replaced.

There will also be a claim about the loss of the wheat. Transnet must wait for a full assessment to determine the cost. “But it is not going to be cheap,” Morwe said.

According to Morwe he is a firm believer that it is up to everyone involved, Including - Transnet Management, Organised Labour and employees to find solutions for the challenges faced.

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, said the Union is very disturbed by the derailment. A total of 215 new general freight locomotives were deployed into operations by TFR last year, but 58 locomotives were disarray in the same period.

“Of the 450 derailment in the 2017/2018 financial year, Transnet Freight Rail was the biggest contributor according to the statistics of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR). Most of these derailments were on the railway lines that are under the control of Transnet. Surely employees cannot be held accountable for these shortages of the company,” Harris said.

The derailment on the Prasa railway lines negatively impacted Prasa’s Metrorail trains on the route. They have all been rerouted via Capital Park.

“These incidents have a devastating impact on the operating ability and service delivery of both state-owned enterprises,” said Harris.

Issued on behalf of United National Transport Union (UNTU) by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer